We were up early this morning, the 11th day of the 11th month, to attend a Remembrance service in Southborough with my daughter’s Guide patrol. This is the view from where we parked (Pennington Road) looking over the valley towards Tonbridge.
World War One had a large impact on the history of my family, so I always make an effort to be quiet at 11am. Today we were also quiet in Southborough, midway through the service, sometime around 9.30am. It was very cold, but with this brilliant blue sky; frosty, misty grass on the Common, and autumnal trees around the Church. It made you grateful to be there.
Towards the end of World War One, my great grandad, Arthur Henry Calvert Pepper, left his pregnant wife, Alice, and their five young children to go and fight in France. At that time he was in his late thirties, and didn’t have to join up, he volunteered. Arthur and Alice ran the Post Office in Harbledown, just outside Canterbury, and also took on extra work for Ltd Col Cordeaux at Hopebourne House.
Arthur died at the beginning of The Battle of St Quentin Canal, on the 29th September 1918, just weeks before the end of the war. He is buried in Vadencourt British Cemetery, France, and mentioned on both the Harbledown and Canterbury War Memorials.
Alice remarried in 1927, and moved to Canterbury. She lived until she was 86, seeing her three sons fight, and return from World War Two. We know she grew up in Wantage and Bracknell in Berkshire and moved to Kent when she was about 18, and I remember her as a delicate old lady but with a very strong character. As I now study the piles of ancestry documents we have gathered on the family, I wish, when I was 8, I had asked her so much more than “What did you wear to school?”